Sermon of Fr. Richard Stark, March 17th 2011

12:40 AM | By | Category: Parish and pastoral care, Social work, Ecumenism
Lenten season 1st week A (Mt 7, 7-12) On the 10th death anniversary of Monsignor of Fr. Hartmut Kania Sermon of Fr. Richard Stark On March 17th 2011 1. Today we celebrate the 10th death anniversary of Monsignor Hartmut Kania. He received me with open arms in September 1999. I willingly took over pastoral care of the African community in the Sacred Heart Parish at that time. Apart from his duties as pastor Fr. Kania was in charge of Caritas Saint Petersburg and the Maltese Knights relief organization which he himself had established. A simply inconceivable amount of work and responsibility which that priest took upon his shoulders. Surely, he did feel the burden of work and tried to defend himself from that. Our common pilgrimage to Aglona (Latvia), where we charged ourselves with spiritual energy, will always remain unforgettable for me. Yet, he could not be saved from a cerebral stroke which ended with his untimely death. Each year we gathered on his death anniversary day, thought of him and prayed. What kind of professional and human strength he must have had that we still remember him today? Surely, he was a Catholic priest, his whole life was influenced by his faith. “Whenever you did this to one of the least of my brothers, you did it for me” (Mt 25,40). 2. Today’s gospel mentions the golden rule (Mt 7,12) which guided Fr. Hartmut: “Do to others whatever you would that others do to you: there you have the Law and the Prophets”. It means in concrete terms: Treat the people as you would like to be treated by them. This is- in short- the contents of the whole Holy Scripture. We could set this rule as a heading over the life of Fr. Harmut. There are many fields of life where this golden rule could be applied. Let us begin with Fr. Hartmut Kania’s      10th death anniversary. In this celebration we would like to commemorate especially his social activity and we wish that somebody may continue his work so that people can furthermore experience his kindness. We thankfully celebrate this day and wish to be treated by our fellow humans with respect and love. We deal with our deceased friend in a way in which we ourselves would like to be dealt with by him. All of us who knew him think of his readiness to help and hope for changing our society according to the Christian rules, and we expect to experience together the respect that we attempt to show to the others. The golden rule includes two commandments, the Law and the Prophets (Mt 22,40). The golden rule is just another version of the commandment to love. The golden rule is not just a purely human  matter referring to interpersonal relations, but it has always something to do with God. Our relations to God and to one another are inseparable. For example, if somebody cannot forgive, his life will lose its worth and sense, and he will go to waste. You will be affected by that, overshadowed by the feeling of guilt, not the one who did you wrong. In the Bible, the word of Jesus written down, we can hear that again today: “Do to others whatever you would that others do to you: there you have the Law and the Prophets”. Treat the people as you would like to be treated by them. This is- in short- the contents of the whole Holy Scripture. 3. Dear brothers and sisters, the longer we reflect upon that passage of the Bible, the more challenging it becomes for us. How does it refer to the relations with strangers, with the Moslems, with people whom we do not like? If I as a Christian were involved in politics, how would I apply the golden rule? Is it still obliging? Is an ethical behavior not possible any more? Yet, we know that the passage we refer to is the word of God, and we should act upon it. The golden rule does not speak of an eye for an eye, or the tooth for a tooth, no, it says you should treat the others as you wish to be  treated by them. And Jesus demands even more when he says: do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse, overcome the evil with the good. It is not a human rule which we find in the gospel, it is a Divine rule, incorporated in Jesus himself. He does not merely demand it of us, he fulfills it himself. He did not choose gold, i.e. riches, prosperity, or recognition, but the golden rule. And so he received more than money could buy. Exactly like Jesus entrusted his life to the Father by obeying his word, so should we, too, learn to trust and to obey. We should also ask ourselves each day what it means: “Do to others whatever you would that others do to you: there you have the Law and the Prophets”. Treat the people as you would like to be treated by them. This is- in short- the contents of the whole Holy Scripture.

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